WILMINGTON, Del. -- Fewer than 90 seconds after taking the stage at a steel plant here Tuesday, Mitt Romney saluted Rick Santorum, his erstwhile GOP rival who suspended his presidential campaign.
"He has made an important contribution to the political process, and has brought forward issues he cares very deeply about and has been able to gather a great deal of public support for those issues and for himself," Romney said of Santorum, a former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania. "He will continue to have a major role in the Republican party and I look forward to his work in helping assure victories for Republicans across the country in November."
Romney called Santorum's decision to drop out, a "good day for me." Indeed, Santorum's departure from the race appeared to shake loose several conservative endorsements for Romney, including Lousiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey, who announced their support for Romney within hours of Santorum's final press conference.
Romney told his audience of roughly 400 supporters that he and Santorum had spoken by phone Tuesday morning, and said they share a mutual interest in "seeing this country taken on a very different path."